Known as one of the nation’s most popular vacation spots, Lake of the Ozarks also has a reputation of being one of the best fishing lakes in the country.
The 54,000-acre reservoir annually makes Bassmaster Magazine’s 100 Best Bass Lakes list and is a popular stop for national crappie tournament circuits. The lake contains plenty of fish-attracting cover and structure such as boat docks, planted brush piles, steep bluffs, creek channels, humps, and points.
Lake Of The Ozarks Geography
The various arms of the lake offer diverse water clarity and structure so anglers can catch fish with a wide range of tactics. The Osage arm runs 98 miles from Bagnell Dam to Truman Dam and changes drastically from one end to the other. The North Shore section on the lower end contains some of the deepest and clearest water on the lake, while the upper Osage near Warsaw narrows until it turns riverine in appearance with the water remaining stained to murky most of the time.
The winding Niangua arm resembles a large river more than a reservoir since it has few major coves and a narrow main channel for most of its length.
The 10-mile Gravois arm is one of the oldest developed sections of the lake so its shoreline is dotted with boat docks. The Grand Glaize arm runs about 16 miles from its confluence with the Osage arm to the swinging bridges area where the Glaize narrows down to a stream.
Lake Of The Ozarks Fishing Tactics
The lake is loaded with keeper-size bass thanks to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s 15-inch minimum length regulation on black bass. March is a prime month for catching heavyweight bass because the fish move shallow during the prespawn. The best tactics for catching lunker bass then is twitching a suspending stickbait or pitching a jig along 45-degree rocky banks.
As the water warms in April, bass migrate to pea gravel banks to spawn. A variety of lures, including jigs, Texas-rigged soft plastic lizards and craws, finesse worms, stickworms and topwater lures, will coax nesting bass into biting then.
Topwater action is great for postspawn bass throughout May and early June. Early summer is also a prime time for throwing deep-diving crankbaits, magnum-sized plastic worms and heavyweight jigs along main lake points where current sweeps across the structure during periods of power generation. Night fishing with 10- or 11-inch plastic worms, heavy jigs and black spinnerbaits is the most productive way to catch bass in the heat of summer.
Lake Of The Ozarks End Of Year Fishing
Several bass tournament circuits hold championships at Lake of the Ozarks throughout the fall. Pitching trick worms on shaky jigheads to boat docks has become a winning tactic to catch pressured bass during fall tournaments. Plenty of bass can also be caught during fall feeding sprees on buzz baits, topwater poppers and walkers, spinnerbaits, square bill crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, swimbaits and swim jigs.
Vast sections of the lake remain ice-free in even the coldest months, so plenty of water remains accessible to bass anglers throughout the winter. The top lures to throw for wintertime bass are suspending stickbaits, Alabama rigs adorned with swimbaits and football jigs.
The Missouri Department of Conservation’s 9-inch minimum length limit on crappie has helped keep crappie fishing consistently good throughout the year. Limits of keeper-size crappie can be taken in the shallows on jigs and minnows from March through May and again in October through early December. The key to catching crappie the rest of the year is to find some of the hundreds of brush piles sunken at various depths throughout the lake.
Lake Of The Ozarks Boating/Lodging Information
Several marinas and resorts rent boats to visiting anglers who don’t own one and want to venture out on the water. Public launch ramps are available at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Grand Glaize Recreation Area (Public Beach #2), Lake of the Ozarks State Park Public Beach #1 and McCubbins Point and Missouri Department of Conservation access areas at Coffman Beach, Shawnee Bend, Brown Bend, Gravois Mills, Larry R. Gale and Wigwam School.
Visiting anglers will find plenty of places to stay at the lake with more than 5,000 hotel rooms and 170 camp sites available. You can camp, stay at a hotel or rent a house or condo. There are plenty of places to grab a burger or enjoy fine dining after your fishing trip with more than 200 restaurants and bars either on the lake front or close to the lake.
For information on lodging and dining options at the Lake of the Ozarks or to receive a free vacation guide, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-FUN-LAKE or visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitors Bureau web site at funlake.com.
Copies of John Neporadny’s book, “THE Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Guide” are
available by calling 573/365-4296 or visiting the web site www.jnoutdoors.com.
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